VILLAGERS in Lymm are rallying to show their support for Ukraine refugees with a special event to provide advice and help for those planning to host a family or assist in other ways.
Local resident Kristen Bender, an American lawyer who settled in Lymm 17 years ago having previously lived and worked in Kyiv, started receiving a trickle of Whatsapp messages, texts and calls from her former colleagues, friends and their families in February. They were uniformly terrified of what would happen to their beloved homeland.
That trickle of queries became a deluge of pleas for help after the invasion and has become a heart-wrenching constant “ping” on Ms Bender’s phone. She started posting pleas for help on the Lymm Village Facebook page seeking other host families. Ms. Bender has applied to sponsor a family from Kharkiv in the East of Ukraine and their small dog.
Reading the desperate pleas for help, Lymm Village’s social conscience swung into action!
After the UK Government regulations and sponsorship went live on Friday, March 18th, a number of local families have registered to sponsor Ukrainian families including children and dogs! Some have walked to Poland, others are sleeping in the train station in Budapest, one woman and her 3 children are in Moldova alone as her husband stayed in Ukraine to fight.
Local Cllr Graham Gowland organised a coordination meeting; and a Community-wide Meeting will be held on Friday, March 25th at 6 pm at the Sanctuary Café.
Cllr Gowland said “we’ve had such an amazing result from the local community stepping up to offer homes and help to families fleeing the war. We’re working hard to make sure people get the right information about the sponsorship program – which isn’t a simple process, but also to make sure that Refugees are supported once they get here, and welcomed into our community. Hopefully, anyone needing advice will be able to come to our briefing meeting on Friday at 6 pm at Sanctuary Café in Lymm”.
People can attend for information on hosting a family, but also assist in other ways such as food distribution, IT support for the visa application forms, and general advice on the visa process.
Mindful of the impact on local services, particularly schools, Warrington Borough Council officials have been invited.
Catherine and Kieran Walshe, long-time village residents and public health experts, who have sponsored a Ukrainian family, will attend so residents can ask questions about the process.
Tickets for the event can be booked at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ukrainian-host-meeting-how-can-you-help-qa-session-tickets-302217640097